“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
- Matthew 7:1-3
As we approach the 2020 Presidential election, there is palpable tension. Human judgment is divisive, destructive, and distracting. Instead, we need to act with greater gospel empathy toward others – those in our workplaces, homes, and communities.
A month before the nation’s pandemic lockdown, I was on a stage at my church for Black History month, sharing a poetry piece. I walked off the stage with tears flowing from my eyes. I immediately realized it was time for me to step into my calling as an entrepreneur, artist, and advocate. Even though I was extremely comfortable in my corporate role, that Monday morning, I handed in my letter of resignation. I’ve found comfort to be the biggest stumbling block for change. I knew I wasn’t leaving for greater career aspirations; I felt called to make a more significant impact.
I believe a big part of my calling is telling stories that need to be heard. This is why I’m excited to share three leaders' insights on how we can move from empathy to action as our hearts are transformed through Biblical reconciliation.
Beverly Jenkins is a pastor with an instinct for business organization and strategy in Ferguson, Missouri.
B. Chris Simpson is gifted at communication, sharing faith, and casting vision in Memphis, Tennessee.
Brian Owens is a singer, songwriter, and dedicated community activist in Ferguson and metropolitan St. Louis, Missouri.
LOVE TO LISTEN
How do people put the gospel at the center of the conversations around racial tension and unrest?
B. Chris Simpson said, “People can show compassion, let others speak, offer an apology, etc. Often we are afraid of controversy and how it will affect the bottom line; therefore, fearing doing the wrong thing leads to doing no thing.” The statement is powerful and real. Listening is challenging, yet it’s the most empathetic action, essential to inspiring change. When you have conversations with others, do you spend more time listening, thinking about what you will say, or speaking?
CHOOSE THE RIGHT WEAPON
How are you willing to be courageous in the moment?
Brian Owens said, “Right now, we are trying to use a whole lot of things to reconcile that don't have anything to do with the Biblical reconciliation that Jesus prescribed and took care of on the cross.” This point hits home for me and perhaps does for you as well. When we look at politics or racial issues, we often lose sight of our primary weapon, the cross of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “ For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
We have to choose to fight with the armor of God rather than the armor of man. Dare I ask, are you fighting with the right weapon? If love is not the primary motivation for you to change your small part of the world, what is?
How have you processed the current events in your personal and professional lives?
Beverly Jenkins shared: “We have to stop preaching a watered-down gospel. We have to hear the truth of God to convict our hearts. Isolation brought awareness of the need for Christ in the personal gaps.” We all agreed that we have to rest in God’s truth now more than ever. Racial tensions and political division often come from falsified security in sources outside of Christ.
When we look to Him as “the author and finisher of our faith,” as Hebrews 12:2 (KJ21) states, we can confidently listen with hearts full of genuine curiosity, choose to fight with love, and live in the freeing arms of Jesus Christ. Biblical reconciliation in these times of challenge means we must first transform our hearts. We must understand our "-isms" or the “planks” in our own eyes. Then we can move the roadblocks and make a positive change in God's Kingdom.
Will you allow God's word to transform your heart to create a Biblical reconciliation in His Kingdom?